Human Development and Family Studies

Jun 14, 2013 Debra Cheung


The research/teaching programs in human development and family studies (HD) encompass socioemotional and cognitive development across the lifespan, with an emphasis on the influences of context (e.g., family, school, community and culture) on development. Research questions concern how multiple aspects of a child's or adult's skills, abilities, physical health, emotional health and environment interact to produce a particular behavior or pattern of behavior over time. HD research is significant to the health and well-being of children, youth, families and the elderly. Current projects address: infant/child abuse, youth violence, academic failure, adolescent depression, stress-related illnesses and Alzheimer's disease.


HD has nine Academic Senate faculty (eight professor; one SOE lecturer) & three specialists in CE. Additional Unit 18 lecturers permit delivery of the core undergraduate curriculum. HD's 1998-99 faculty FTE breakdown (prior to July 99 hire): 5.20 I&R, 2.80 AES, 1.85 Unit 18, and 3.00 CE. Two faculty will reach age 65 within the next six years; one is planning to retire.

Major Programmatic Thrusts of the Department (current)

  • Socioemotional development of infants, children, youth and adults, in context
  • Family and its influence on human development, particularly socioemotional development
  • Cognitive development of infants, children, youth and adults, in context

Major Programmatic Thrusts of the Department (5-10 years)

  • Targeted emphasis on family (for campus-wide Center for Family and Human Development)
  • Increased expertise in quantitative methods for longitudinal human development research
  • Development of a critical density of research activity in cognitive development and environmental influences on cognitive development

Program Impact/Ranking

There is no national ranking of human development programs. Based on data obtained from 40 human development programs, our program compares quite favorably (top 5-6) to others in terms of the curriculum offered and the caliber of the faculty; however, our majors-to-faculty ratio is the worst in the nation (69:1 in 1998-99). Our faculty are internationally as well as nationally known, and are regularly invited to address scientific conferences in the U.S. and Europe; in addition, two faculty have been recipients of FIRST Awards from NIH, one faculty was appointed to NIMH's Family Research Consortium III and several faculty serve as associate editors or editorial board members for major journals in psychology, human development and neuropsychology.

Extramural Grants and Gifts

Direct expenditures from extramural sources averaged close to $800,000 annually, from 1993-1999, for the HD faculty. Typical sources of funding include NIH and NSF. We are committed to increasing extramural funding over the next 5-6 years.

Teaching Programs of the Department

For 1998-99, there were 543 registered undergraduate Human Development majors; this was the third consecutive year with over 525 HD majors. For many years, each HD faculty member has been assigned about 80 undergraduate advisees per year. For 1998-99, HD's annual student credit hours were 15,329, & HD's student FTE per I&R faculty FTE (including Unit 18) for 1998-99 was 48.32. This overload is longstanding, and it is critical that it be ameliorated, via increased faculty FTE or drastic cuts in the undergraduate enrollment. (It would be unfortunate to impose major cuts in HD enrollment; there is no other comparable program in the UC system, and HD graduates find ample employment and graduate education opportunities.) HD offers two undergraduate minors: one in human development and one in adult development and aging. HD also provides the core for two graduate programs, an M.S. in Child Development and a Ph.D. in Human Development; the Human Development faculty teach 90 percent of the required courses for these graduate programs.

Outreach/Extension Roles

An integral part of HD is the 4-H Center for Youth Development (CYD) which serves as a research and development center to enhance and support the work of UCCE Advisors (60 total Advisor FTE) throughout California. Advisors' primary responsibilities are to address issues relating to youth, family and community. In the next 5-6 years, we would like to see a fourth CE youth specialist added to HD-CYD, and will also lobby for an HD-based CE specialist in family and one in aging (California is one of only a handful of states that lack a specialist in aging). HD faculty are involved in eight DANR workgroups including topics on youth violence, early development and childcare, out-of-school care and elderly Californians.

Potential for Collaborative Links to Other Units to Develop Clusters of Excellence

HD faculty have collaborative links with faculty in pediatrics, psychiatry, neurology, epidemiology, and psychology. These linkages have resulted in the funding of several collaborative, extramural research grants and "co-mentoring" of several graduate students. HD will establish additional collaborative links (e.g., with anthropology, sociology) in the process of establishing the proposed Center for Family and Human Development. Our three cognitive development faculty will establish links with the to-be-established Center for Mind Sciences; a future HD faculty hire may occur as part of the Mind Sciences Initiative. The possibilities for greatly enhanced linkages between education, human development, community development, and several other social science departments are beginning to be explored by the Provost's office.

Positions Needed to Improve Research, Teaching and Extension Goals

  1. Children, youth, and family (the first "Family" HD position we hope to garner, with the longer-term goal of establishing the proposed Center for Family and Human Development)
  2. Quantitative developmental methodology (focus on statistical methods for longitudinal, developmental research; position is specifically referenced in the Quantitative Social Sciences Initiative)
  3. Cognitive development (any specialty within cognitive development will be considered, and this individual may be recruited for the to-be-established Center for Mind Sciences)
  4. Family processes; (positions 4 to 6 are all referenced in the Center for Family and Human Development proposal)
  5. Family and mental health
  6. Family and aging


With only nine HD faculty, both "no-growth" and "minimum growth" outcomes for faculty FTE will necessitate serious cuts in the undergraduate program. Even with the assistance of Unit 18 lecturers, we have difficulty covering the core curriculum and our classes are continuing to increase in size, with most of the required, upper-division, classes enrolling 100 - 300 students. This cannot continue in the long-term; it results in an unsatisfactory learning experience for the students and it causes too much stress on the faculty. We sincerely hope that the college and the provost will consider the findings of the recent review of our undergraduate program. The program was highly praised for its quality and relevance; however, the very strong recommendation was made for a sizable increase in faculty FTE, as opposed to cuts in student enrollment, in order to improve the student-to-faculty ratio. If we were unfortunate enough to be handed a "no growth" plan, then we would attempt to replace our one retiring faculty member with someone who fits our #1 priority position - children, youth and family. If we were handed a "minimal growth" plan (1.0 I&R FTE, in addition to a replacement for one retiring faculty), then we would go after the #1, #2 & #3 priority positions (children, youth and family; quantitative methods for human development; and cognitive development) by trying to leverage two faculty hires from the 1.0 I&R FTE (e.g., via split appointments, creative combinations of I&R and OR FTE, etc.).

Projected Resource Needs and Strategies for Achieving

HD and our "sister" unit - CD - are in need of space. Human and Community Development (HCD) requires space for faculty offices, long-term and temporary research and extension projects, and students. HCD now has less than 79 percent of the minimum space called for by CA&ES guidelines and we will presumably be bringing in a number of new faculty in the next 5-10 years. In the longterm, and in the absence of additional Hart Hall space, our goal is to acquire satellite facilities elsewhere.

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